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UN official slams situation at Gaza crossings
Photo: Reuters
UN official: Gaza border situation intolerable
UN official urges Israel to 'abide by its obligations,' adds rocket attacks must end
The situation at the borders between Israel and the Gaza Strip is "intolerable" and restrictions on imports into the Palestinian territory must be eased, a top UN official said on Wednesday.

 

"The intolerable situation at Gaza's crossings remains the key impediment to bringing help - and hope - to the people of Gaza," UN Under-Secretary-General Lynn Pascoe told the UN Security Council during a monthly debate on the decades-long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

 

Earlier this week, outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised Western donors that Israel would lift restrictions on food supplies entering Gaza after a row with Washington over blocked convoys of macaroni and cheese.

 

But Pascoe, a former US diplomat, told council members that while there has been an increase in the amount of goods allowed into the Gaza Strip, "the quality and quantity of imports are insufficient."

 

He said the United Nations urged Israel "to abide by its obligations under international humanitarian law and open crossings for emergency supplies and construction materials, without which there will be no way to rebuild Gaza."

 

'Rocket attacks must cease'  

Pascoe says it has opened Gaza's border to larger amounts of food and medicine since its December-January offensive against Hamas.

 

In addition to restrictions on what it deems luxury goods, such as cigarettes and chocolates, Israel has blocked entry of materials such as cement and steel for rebuilding because it says they could be used for bunkers and rearming.

 

Pascoe also expressed concern about the lack of a permanent ceasefire despite Egyptian efforts to broker a deal on one.

 

"In the absence of a ceasefire, violence continues," he said. "During the (mid February-mid March) reporting period more than 100 rockets and mortars have been fired into Israel from Gaza. These attacks, targeting civilian areas, are irresponsible and must cease."

 

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